October 8, 2010

How desperate are Dawgs for a win?

Georgia coach Mark Richt and Derek Dooley can agree on one thing heading into Saturday's game at Sanford Stadium - both of their respective teams are in dire need of a win.

Of course, the Bulldogs have been saying that for a month.

Losers of four straight, Georgia (1-4, 0-3) is in the midst of its worst start since the 1993 squad started 1-4 before beating Southern Miss 54-24. In case anybody is wondering, the last time the Bulldogs started a season 1-5 was way back in 1904. That year, Georgia played only six games.

"I would say, we are pretty desperate for a victory right now," Richt said of the contest which kicks off at 12:21 on SEC-TV. "Of course I don't want to speak for Tennessee."

Dooley agrees his Vols (2-3, 0-2) could use a victory as well.

Tennessee appeared to have last week's game in hand, when the Vols appeared to have LSU stopped on its final play, only to get flagged for having too many men on the field. The Tigers subsequently scored on the following play to snatch away the win.

"We've got a big challenge coming off of that tough loss," Dooley said. "We know that Georgia has had its issues and they're going to be starving for a win. But I also know they have a great coaching staff, they're still a talented team and that's a prideful program. I expect them to be at their best."

Georgia enters the contest as a surprising 11-point favorite over Tennessee, but nobody associated with the Bulldogs is about to take solace in that.

As senior wideout Kris Durham puts it, so much has gone wrong for the Bulldogs in 2010 that to even take such a number seriously would be a huge mistake.

"We're trying to stay positive, trying to have a positive mentality, and get back to having fun. It's never fun when you lose. We want to work hard on positive things happening for us," Durham said. "But the big thing is we have to finish games. We have to finish. We haven't done that yet so that's what we need to focus on and that comes from us."

Take last week's game at Colorado.

Georgia appeared to be driving for at least a potential game-winning field goal attempt by Blair Walsh before Caleb King fumbled at the Buffaloes' 27-yard line with 1:55 to play."I think this is a test of our ability to handle these adversities. It's something that we will all grow from. I know I hope our young people learn a lot of positive things going through it," Richt said. "It's not fun when you're going through it, but it's something we should be learning from, grow from and get better because of it. That's my goal, to find out what I need to do to learn out of this thing and get better."

Like Georgia, Tennessee is looking for its first SEC win, although Dooley downplayed the significance of getting his first conference victory against the school where his father Vince Dooley remains a Bulldog icon.

"I think its special game because it's Georgia; it's an SEC East rival and big game for both programs. That's what makes this one special," Dooley, who earned his law degree from UGA. "But it also counts the same as any other SEC game. But because it's the next game, that's what makes it more special than anything."

Dooley knows watching Saturday's game won't be easy for his father to do - even from the comfort of his own living room, where the elder Dooley has said he will be.

"I think every one of our games has been rough on him emotionally; it's no different than any father watching his son," Dooley said. "I know I don't have to ask him that as it relates to the Georgia question, but I know last week was rough on him, too. That's part of being a dad. I have a son so I know what that's like."

Dooley laughed his mom Barbara won't have any such reservations.

"She never does, for sure," he said. "I'm sure she'll be there (at Sanford) and I'm sure she'll be cheering for us."

Richt and Bulldogs will give out a cheer if the defense can stop Tennessee on its opening drive.

In each of Georgia's four losses, the opposing team has capped its first possession with a touchdown, putting the offense in an early hole.

"There are certain situations we put our guys in we thought they would handle and afterwards realized maybe they can't handle that as well as we thought. You have to make sure you don't do it again the next time around," Richt said. "The point I've made about some of these opening drives, some of these situations where maybe something new popped up that wasn't prepped for. There is just no experience to draw from to say this is how we would handle that. We are having still a little bit of that from time to time."

NOTES: Wide receiver A.J. Green said he is 100 percent after coming down with cramps in the third quarter against Colorado. … Although Richt has not said for certain, expect King to start at tailback against the Vols. … Dawg Walk is scheduled for 10:45 a.m.

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